New Kaufman project in Franklinton; Hotel LeVeque opening in fall

Jennifer Wray

Kaufman Development has big ideas for East Franklinton.

Hot dog, does Kaufman Development have a plan for Franklinton.

Yesterday developer Brett Kaufman made public plans for a major project along West Broad Street in East Franklinton that would include 241 studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments; 50,000 square feet of commercial office space, and 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Kaufman's project-which he plans to submit to the Franklin Area Commission on June 21-will feature a dog park, public art, indoor/outdoor fitness spaces, a rooftop garden, an outdoor movie screen and more. The development is planned for land occupied by Phillips Original Coney Island and National Office Warehouse, both of which would be torn down to make way for the multi-building, multi-use project.

This is only one of a number of projects on Kaufman's plate. "Our pipeline is pretty robust; we are actively seeking out...a number of opportunities in the urban core of our city-I don't want to just say Downtown, but in and around Downtown," he says. Such projects include Two25 Commons in RiverSouth, with the Daimler Group; the LeVeque Tower, where Kaufman is building apartments and condos (more on goings-on at the LeVeque in a moment), and in the Short North. "And then we're focusing on a new product line that is an urban solution for typically suburban environment, which I can't elaborate on too much-but we also expect to be busy outside of the core of downtown," Kaufman says.

In the meantime, back at the iconic 89-year-old LeVeque, work is moving right along on what will be the 149-room Hotel LeVeque, due to open in late fall. In addition to the boutique hotel-an Autograph Collection property and part of Marriott International-and Kaufman's residences, the $20 million-plus makeover to the historic tower also includes improved office spaces.

Renovation of the 47-story LeVeque at Broad and High Streets-the world's fifth-tallest building when it was constructed in 1927 by architect Charles Howard Crane-is being led by Columbus-based architecture firm Schooley Caldwell Associates. Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny credits the improvements to LeVeque for spurring development along South High Street in Downtown Columbus.

Hotel LeVeque will occupy the fifth through 10th floors of the LeVeque Tower.

Visitors to Hotel LeVeque will occupy the building's fifth through 10th floors, with a lobby on its first floor and an "upscale dining destination restaurant" on its second-floor mezzanine, plus a meeting space above, says a release from the hotel operator.Hotel LeVeque is attached to the Palace Theater, providing easy access to live entertainment and performing arts. Additional plans for touches specific to Hotel LeVeque include everything from locally made soaps to staff uniforms created by a Columbus designer, plus special getaways, tours and more, according to the release.

Rosemont, Ill.-based First Hospitality Group, Inc. will own and operate Hotel LeVeque under a partnership agreement with the building's owner, Tower 10 LLC (whose members include developer Don Casto III and Robert Meyers). Hospitality industry veteran Geri Lombard, whose CV includes nearly a decade at the Renaissance Hotel Downtown, will be Hotel LeVeque's GM, says the First Hospitality Group announcement.